Author Archives: Ann

About Ann

I am an artist living in Napa, California and traveling summers on the Inland Passage to Alaska. I’m interested in wildlife and nature conservation and often reflect those interests in my watercolor paintings

Western Bluebird


Western Bluebird

The beautiful blue-and rust Western Bluebird is actually a small thrush.  They swoop over open fields to catch insects.  They can also be attracted to backyard feeders with mealworms.

The bills of Western Bluebirds are not equipped to dig their own nest holes, so the presence of cavities in trees or posts, old woodpecker holes or nest boxes are very important.  When building or purchasing a nest box for a bluebird, make sure you have the correct entrance hole size;  the diameter is different for the eastern bluebird.

You can read about Western Bluebird nest boxes at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology NestWatch site.

Woodpecker Specimen- Nuttall’s


Woodpecker Specimen- Nuttall’s

This female Nuttall’s Woodpecker was the unfortunate victim of a window collision.  Up to 1 billion birds die from window strikes in the U.S. each year, according to a 2014 study. 

To reduce bird strikes, it is suggested to remove all bird attractants near the windows, carefully place bird feeders, or to partially cover the windows.  Remedies are available according to the Bird Collisions Program of the American Bird Conservancy. The group offers extensive information on preventing collisions on its website.

Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

A medium-sized hawk, our California subspecies is rich reddish-orange on breast, head and shoulders.  The wings are strongly patterned black-and-white and the tail strongly barred.  

Red-shouldered hawks are typically seen in riparian woodland habitats.  Since 1900, their population has declined due to the clearing of wet hardwood forests.  Red-shouldered hawks and other raptors also suffered from DDT exposure causing brittle eggs until that pesticide was phased out.

Black-headed Grosbeak



Black-headed Grosbeak

This chunky bird has a heavy conical bill and a fully orange belly which distinguishes it from the Spotted Towhee. Often hidden in dense foliage, they are usually identified by their rich melodious whistling.  The song is similar to a Robin’s but faster and less broken.

Back-headed Grosbeaks prefer habitat with mixed riparian woodlands including large trees, however they will visit suburban parks and backyard feeders 

Loss of inspiration

I’m afraid I’ve hit a bit of a snag in my blog for Art in the Library.  I’m having trouble getting motivated after one of my subjects died.  Our lovely pet Lucky was dying from cancer and we finally had to him go.  He was my constant companion; my home office seems very quiet now.

We miss you, Lucky.


Waiting for Supper, watercolor batik

Quail Strut


Quail Strut

Our golden foothills of California are a favorite habitat of this colorful quail.  The male often stands vigil on a tree stump or fence post, claiming his territory and warning his flock with his distinctive call to take cover in the underbrush.

The distinctive call sounds like Chi-ca-go!

California Quail


California Quail

Established as the California state bird in 1931, the birds was known for it’s hardiness and adaptability.  Also known as the valley quail, these birds have a distinctive black plume that curves forward.

These quail prefer low growing shrubs or woodpiles for cover.  Adapting well to human populations, these ground nesting birds are subject to predation by feral cats.  Conversion of small farms to large agribusiness without hedgerows has a negative impact on its habitat.


Napa Library Exhibit

I did it!  I actually made the deadline completing 32 artworks and installing them in the Napa County Library yesterday.

For those of you interested in the business side of art, I thought I’d describe my exhibit process.  I took some extra time to lay out the work on paper.  It made for a late night previous to installation day, but it really made the actual install go smoothly.

I made a quick line drawing of the exhibit area in Photoshop and then created small tiles of each artwork and placed them on the layout.  I didn’t pay attention to sizes or quality of the tiles.  I just wanted to co-ordinate the subjects and color palettes a bit.

I’ve included a web-friendly version of my layout here.  This preview worked really well, and I only ended up swapping two of the images in the actual display.


exhibit layout

Napa County Library exhibit

Great Blue Fisherman


Great Blue Fisherman


Great blue herons can adapt to almost any wetland habitat as long as it holds fish.  Their primary diet is fish although they have been known to eat a wide range of shrimp, crabs, insects, amphibians and even small mammals.

Herons are known as very clever anglers.  Some have been observed to drop insects or human foods they do not eat themselves like popcorn or bread into the water to attract fish.

Great Blue Heron


Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is a tall wading bird common near water throughout North America.  It is the largest heron in North America and can take advantage of deeper waters than other heron species.  Despite their large size, they have an astonishing ability to take flight in an instant due to a trait they share with all birds:  hollow bones.

Since Herons are dependent on water, they are subject to environmental challenges of wetland habitat losses.

From ancient times, Herons have symbolized wisdom and patience as they keep a solitary viigil beside a river, lake or pond waiting for passing prey.